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FEATURE: How QLD’s New Lockout Laws Will Affect Smaller Musicians & Bands


In February this year the Queensland Government opted to pass a series of laws that would mean pubs, clubs, and live music venues in the State would need to serve their last drinks by 2am (3am in designated ‘Safe Night Precincts), effective from July 1st 2016. From February 1st 2017 this will also mean a 1am lockout rolled out across 15 Safe Night Out precincts in the State.

While the effects the lockout laws will have on revellers and businesses in Brisbane has been (somewhat) addressed, the issue of how it will impact upon small and emerging musicians and bands in the State’s capital has seen little coverage. Artists without an established fan base often find it difficult to bring people to shows, and with the new lockout laws forcing live music venues to turn away patrons earlier in the night there are plenty of concerned musicians and industry professionals.

In a survey of 37 Brisbane musicians who had Facebook artist pages with less than 10,000 likes, 38 per cent (14 responders) believed the new lockout laws would slightly decrease the number of people coming to their shows, while 19 per cent (7 responders) believed the laws would greatly decrease the number of people coming to their shows.

Lockout laws turnoutChristina Langham, Event Promoter and Co-owner of Brisbane-based agency Vincent & Jules, explains there are valid reasons for artists to be concerned. “I think people who want to go out drinking will gravitate towards bars and clubs with cheap drinks and no charges, thus skipping out on live music with a door price in favour of spending more at the bar in an effort to get drunk quicker before lockout,” said Langham.

To further examine this possibility, it’s important to draw attention to Sydney and the effect of its lockout laws on the city’s nightlife. According to the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA), there has been a 40 per cent drop in live music in the Sydney’s lockout zone since the city introduced the laws in 2014. APRA figures also show a 19 per cent drop in bar patrons within areas affected by the lockout laws.

Read about the recent ‘Keep Sydney Open’ Protests HERE

Not only are Brisbane artists concerned about their patronage pull at live music shows, but the lockout laws also have them concerned about the likelihood of venues being able to make enough income to remain open. Of the 37 surveyed musicians, 73 per cent (27 responders) said they believed the new lockout laws would result in a reduction in the number of music venues in Brisbane.

Lockout number of venuesThis assumption is not surprising considering the effect Sydney’s lockout laws have had upon the city’s live music venues. According to Douglas Grand, Kings Cross Liquor Accord Chief Executive, at least 16 licensed venues have shut down in Kings Cross since the implementation of Sydney’s lockout laws in 2014. However, in regards to alcohol-fuelled violence, NSW Premier Mike Baird says the 40 per cent drop in assaults occurring in Kings Cross is proof the legislation is working as intended.

Mitch Johnson, Joint CEO of Brisbane-based bookings and promotions agency Moist Promotion, believes while violence is a problem in party areas, the lockout laws won’t fix the issue in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. “I don’t think it’s addressing the problem of violence. I think it’s using [numerous one-punch deaths] to push a personal agenda and gain conservative middle class votes in Brisbane.”

“There have been no additional efforts to curb violence in [Brisbane], such as fixing [late-night] public transport. I feel like the laws are a Band-Aid, knee jerk reaction to the issue when really it’s a cultural thing. We glamorise violence in our society through sport and then wonder why stuff like this happens,” said Johnson.

With Sydney’s statistics showing a decrease in live music shows, patrons, and operating venues, it’s no surprise many Brisbane artists are worried about their chances of being booked for shows after the implementation of the new lockout laws. Of the 37 surveyed musicians, 32 per cent (12 responders) stated they believe getting gigs will be slightly harder, while 24 per cent say they think it will be a lot harder.

Lockout gigsBrisbane solo musician Shane Fell says he’s concerned the time limitations will make it harder for smaller acts to get gigs. “I think it might make it harder for young musicians to get their foot in the door because promoters and booking agents might not want to use valuable time on inexperienced acts,” said Fell.

If Sydney’s statistics are anything to go off, Brisbane could soon be seeing some big changes to its local live music scene as the new State lockout laws will most likely cause harm to our city’s musical culture in a bid to curb a behaviour only exhibited by a small percentage of our society.

On the 30th of June Brisbane’s Big Kick On will see four Fortitude Valley music venues put on FREE live music both as a celebration of our city’s live music scene and in protest of the impending new lockout laws which come into affect on Friday 1st of July.

Read how Brisbane’s Music Industry reacted to the announcement of new lockout laws HERE and how live music venue owners and operators think the new lockout laws will impact Brisbane’s music scene HERE

Check out the video below for further opinions on the issue from professionals in Brisbane’s music scene!

Anonymous comments about the lockout laws from survey respondents_-2